It was good to live on the Landes coast and, last week, when the fifteen of France was on stage in Capbreton, William Servat, his coach of conquest and specific tasks, was the morning type. The one who recently extended his contract until 2027 with the Blues picked up his phone at dawn to talk about rugby, ambitions, preparation and scrums. A conversation to be found in full in the rugby podcast of The TeamCrunch, and of which here is an unpublished extract.
“Being in 2023, does it change everyday life?
There is enthusiasm around us. On the sent. In Toulouse, for example, there is the countdown of the days until the World Cup. But we are here to prepare for the Tournament. This is the first competition on our list and the most important. The expression “World Cup” is used, but only around the staff. This does not go beyond logistical preparation. The term has not been and will not be used with players.
But this remains the last preparation before the World Cup so it may seem paradoxical, right?
Certainly, we all have, in a little corner of our head, the idea that we are preparing for the World Cup… But the objective is the Tournament, which promises to be huge. For example, we made a short presentation to the players on a specific work around the cervical, based on scientific studies, and which must accompany them over time. It concerns them all, it’s a job for tomorrow. Of course, we can bring him back to the World Cup, but we think about physical integrity and performance. Our work goes further than that.
How was the preparation for the Tournament organised?
Throughout the year, we restructure our training globally, with Thibaut Giroud (the performance director), we work a lot with our high-performance video analysts. It becomes more specific as the Tournament approaches, with this first match against Italy. It’s a team that is playing better and better, that has beaten big nations (Wales, March 2022, and Australia, November 2022). Our Grand Slam last year was obviously satisfying, but that was last year! There we are going to have one more trip. We prepare for it in the best way to have a behavior at the height.
“Today, the teams are adapting to us (…) and we are thinking about strategic developments”
Did the November tour, and especially the match against South Africa (30-26, November 12 in Marseille), change the way of preparing and seeing things?
It was still a special match… When you prepare to play South Africa, you know that you are going to have to fight an extraordinary fight, that you are going to come across players who cultivate physical domination. We were marked… These teams are captivating to play. I’m a big believer in the soul supplement, and we’ve seen that. What is the capacity of our team to surpass itself? We want to set our tone. Today, it’s important to ask yourself what the France team is giving off. We must be perceived as difficult to play and we are beginning to be in this register Because there is performance, of course, but also a rigor that we had less when we took refuge behind French flair. And that’s all that will be left of South Africa. It helped us a lot in terms of how we approach matches.
How disruptive can opposing teams’ adaptations be?
Italy is doing incredible performances, England and Wales have changed staff, Ireland is the first nation in the world. It’s an understatement to say that it’s going to be complicated. The match in Ireland, we will have six days to prepare for it and it will be an exciting match. At the beginning of our mandate, we were a nation that was beginning to emerge again. Today, the teams are adapting to us. On small details, specific things. This is why we are so structured and watchful of our team. We work on the spectrum of the team, the image we give off, our strengths. And compared to the behavior that our adversaries may have had in November, we are thinking about strategic developments. Without modifying our game, whose structure is not destined to be, but on adaptations and strategic changes. If only at the level of arbitration. Joel Judge (boss of referees at World Rugby) toured Europe to see how the teams work and, for us, on subtleties and details, it’s important. »